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Impressions of the Playaz N1, Sonia II, RE252, RE0, PFE and IE8, or “Something of Everything and... - Page 2

post #16 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post
Great write-up James as usual. Your eq suggestion with the Sony S545 and Playaz N1 is wonderful, although I still like more bass. I'm finding, however, that I'm preferring the N3 the most. I still haven't spent enough time with the Sonias for the them to come through for me yet. I've been listening more to the Xears and the N3. Can't wait some detailed comparisons from you on the Xears. Again, nice job!!
Thanks Eric, but what about sharing the workload and you doing the comparisons on the Xears?

Concerning the N3, I haven't spent enough time with these. I absolutely love the airiness on the open Playaz IEMs and need to adjust to give them a fair chance. But I'll report back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post
By the way, I'm finding that those Xears orange foams do wonders with the Ortos, especially bringing out even more details in string sections of music even more. Give it a go if they are too small for your ear canals... If you like jazz with strings, find a jazz trumpeter named Tom Harrell and his tune entitled "Baroque Steps." Just heaven!!
Thanks, great find - if only I had my Ortos now, LOL! BTW did you notice I stuffed the UE silicons with those orange foamies for my IE8?

I'll check out "Baroque Steps", I love getting recommendations for good music of any genre - thanks!
post #17 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
Thanks Eric, but what about sharing the workload and you doing the comparisons on the Xears?




Concerning the N3, I haven't spent enough time with these. I absolutely love the airiness on the open Playaz IEMs and need to adjust to give them a fair chance. But I'll report back.



Thanks, great find - if only I had my Ortos now, LOL! BTW did you notice I stuffed the UE silicons with those orange foamies for my IE8?

I'll check out "Baroque Steps", I love getting recommendations for good music of any genre - thanks!
Yes, after some more serious listening, I'll help ease the load on the Xears.... Don't mind @ all.

I saw that James, but couldn't figure where the orange foams came from...lol. I must try that!! Thomas sent a bunch of UE quality silicons.
post #18 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakerysong View Post
James, I always love your review and match up!

Sad thing that I didn't have the Cowon Really want to try :P
Thanks, maybe the EQ on the Sony X is comparable? I don't know, maybe someone who owns both DAPs can help out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AwakenedBeing View Post
Thanks for the write up James. Very unique tips on the IE8 by the way. Do you know if the Playaz N1 and Playaz N1 Pro are the same?
They are those orange Playaz/Xears foamies stuffed under UE silicons. Give a bit better isolation without degrading SQ. And yes, both N1s are the same.
post #19 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post
Hey James. Nice impressions. If you think RE0 sounds too bright and thin on bass, try resetting the foam inside. After fiddling a bit with the foam, I was able to make my RE0 sound perfectly flat - it now has no hint of sibilance at all and the bass is very tight and quite punchy actually.
Thanks Pianist! The RE0s are not mine, so unfortunately no modding allowed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post
Also, I have a question about the PFE - do you notice any lack of micro-detail with this IEM? I find that it misses a lot of harmonics and just sounds overly schematic/simplistic to my ears. The PFE also cannot reproduce the atmosphere of a recording properly IMO - all music I've tried sounds brighter, more "fun" than it should. Not sure if that makes sense, but the PFE sounded sort of "childish/immature" to my ears.
I may not be the right person to ask, because to me some phones (e.g. the Playaz) reproduce great atmosphere even though they are lacking some micro-detail. The PFE may be similar in this regard, at least they strike me as more involving than the RE252 even though the latter have better detail. It may all come down to your personal perception of what ingredients make up the atmosphere of a recording. Micro-detail is obviously high on the list for you, for me it's realistic timbre and good 3D imaging. Anyway, that doesn't mean we can't agree on certain phones like on the e-Q7, but on others we may widely disagree. Not sure if that makes sense either...
post #20 of 77
Yep, the RE252 is pretty interesting, definitely better then I was expecting when I got my pair. Considering they can be found used for under $150, they are an insanely good buy for the quality of sound they produce. You might want to at least use a tiny bit of EQing on the low end. From basic frequency response testing, it does roll off slowly on the lower half and ends up slightly bright. Some EQing can provide a more neutral, fuller presentation. Tip choice and seal is part of this too, and because of how it sits in the ear, some tips that could normally work may not due to the fixed placement.

I'll agree the PFE is more involving in the sense that it is more forward and aggressive. I understand the "simplistic" comment too. It's a very clean, simple sound, perhaps a little too much so. Notes are very short (overly controlled?) and sort of end up lacking some articulation and texture. It's something I also see in the SE530 which has a similar kind of presentation. Sometimes it can end up too clean, too short on note and some presence and subtlety is lost.

A small note on the comparisons, some of these earphones do benefit from amping. Also once we get to this level of sound quality, these earphones start to become sensitive to the quality of the audio source. Low bitrate recordings and less then ideal source devices can really limit the sound quality one hears through these devices. For example, the RE252 is particularly sensitive to the sound quality of the source material and device. I have some poor recordings that really do make the RE252 sound like complete crap. As to needing an amp, I have only used 2 earphones, ever, that benefited zero from amping. These were the NE-7M and Triple.Fi 10. That's it. All other earphones benefited at least a little with amping. The main gain is better fullness, dynamics, and control in the lower frequencies. Although amping largely isn't needed, it's just one of those things you should pretty much just use anyways because there are almost always gains to be had. Even a basic budget amp like FiiO's E5 is a useful amp. Some additional gains in power can be had with better amps, and you can get better overall sound quality once you step to amps with built in DACs. This can bypass some of the mediocre sources like a low quality and noisy laptop line out. You have to be willing to drop around $200 for something good though. However, products like these can let you experience earphones in their best light.

Speaking of amping and need, it is interesting to note that the IE8 isn't tremendously sensitive to low wattage, BUT it is very power hungry and can really make use of stronger amps if available and give you sizable output gains. Some earphones have an odd sense with amps. An example is Westone's UM3X. This is a very highly sensitive earphone. It shouldn't need much in terms of amperage, and it doesn't need much in most regards. However, one odd factor is the UM3X is incredibly sensitive to amping with bass. Off low power, it is quite muddy and incoherent, but once amped, it snaps together being very articulate and controlled. Odd things like this happens when you don't always provide enough power. The end point is essentially be careful. Sometimes what you hear isn't specifically a problem with the earphone. Sometimes the limitation of the setup hinders the end quality.

I'm glad you're getting into EQing. I feel too many people shun the concept when they shouldn't. It can be very helpful making otherwise unlikeable earphones very, very good. Most every earphone can benefit some from EQing. However, a lot of audio players just don't offer extensive EQs. It can sometimes take a rather serious EQing tool to bring an earphone into a brilliant light. There are some earphones that sound great but that I wouldn't be hard-pressed to use without EQing.
post #21 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post
I'm glad you're getting into EQing. I feel too many people shun the concept when they shouldn't. It can be very helpful making otherwise unlikeable earphones very, very good. Most every earphone can benefit some from EQing. However, a lot of audio players just don't offer extensive EQs. It can sometimes take a rather serious EQing tool to bring an earphone into a brilliant light. There are some earphones that sound great but that I wouldn't be hard-pressed to use without EQing.
Very true. I've been getting more into EQ'ing lately, especially to make my RE0s more like my Grados. I feel like people are turned away from headphones without just the right sound signature when they could otherwise have enjoyed them.
post #22 of 77
well said mvw2..I need to get back into amping with my portable one of these days but don't think I'll be able to run anything other than dap to iem anytime soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by semisight View Post
Very true. I've been getting more into EQ'ing lately, especially to make my RE0s more like my Grados. I feel like people are turned away from headphones without just the right sound signature when they could otherwise have enjoyed them.
Some EQ isn't bad when needed but I don't think I could ever do that kind of EQ that james is doing. That's a bit too extreme for me even though all my dap's respond fairly well to it.
post #23 of 77
Hey james, how much better are the N1s over the M9s?
post #24 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post
Yep, the RE252 is pretty interesting, definitely better then I was expecting when I got my pair. Considering they can be found used for under $150, they are an insanely good buy for the quality of sound they produce. You might want to at least use a tiny bit of EQing on the low end. From basic frequency response testing, it does roll off slowly on the lower half and ends up slightly bright. Some EQing can provide a more neutral, fuller presentation. Tip choice and seal is part of this too, and because of how it sits in the ear, some tips that could normally work may not due to the fixed placement.
x2, I wasn't expecting the RE252 to be that good, especially since dfkt's comments weren't flattering when he gave them to me. As for EQing, you're right the comparison wasn't all that fair because I didn't try to EQ the three borrowed IEMs (I believe I said so in the introduction). But I like the gummy bears and concur, with a bit of boosting in the low end they may be among the very best I've heard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post
I'll agree the PFE is more involving in the sense that it is more forward and aggressive. I understand the "simplistic" comment too. It's a very clean, simple sound, perhaps a little too much so. Notes are very short (overly controlled?) and sort of end up lacking some articulation and texture. It's something I also see in the SE530 which has a similar kind of presentation. Sometimes it can end up too clean, too short on note and some presence and subtlety is lost.
I can see the similarity between the PFE and SE530 in this regard, but between these two the PFE strike me as better balanced, especially mids vs. highs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post
A small note on the comparisons, some of these earphones do benefit from amping. Also once we get to this level of sound quality, these earphones start to become sensitive to the quality of the audio source. Low bitrate recordings and less then ideal source devices can really limit the sound quality one hears through these devices. For example, the RE252 is particularly sensitive to the sound quality of the source material and device. I have some poor recordings that really do make the RE252 sound like complete crap. As to needing an amp, I have only used 2 earphones, ever, that benefited zero from amping. These were the NE-7M and Triple.Fi 10. That's it. All other earphones benefited at least a little with amping. The main gain is better fullness, dynamics, and control in the lower frequencies. Although amping largely isn't needed, it's just one of those things you should pretty much just use anyways because there are almost always gains to be had. Even a basic budget amp like FiiO's E5 is a useful amp. Some additional gains in power can be had with better amps, and you can get better overall sound quality once you step to amps with built in DACs. This can bypass some of the mediocre sources like a low quality and noisy laptop line out. You have to be willing to drop around $200 for something good though. However, products like these can let you experience earphones in their best light.

Speaking of amping and need, it is interesting to note that the IE8 isn't tremendously sensitive to low wattage, BUT it is very power hungry and can really make use of stronger amps if available and give you sizable output gains. Some earphones have an odd sense with amps. An example is Westone's UM3X. This is a very highly sensitive earphone. It shouldn't need much in terms of amperage, and it doesn't need much in most regards. However, one odd factor is the UM3X is incredibly sensitive to amping with bass. Off low power, it is quite muddy and incoherent, but once amped, it snaps together being very articulate and controlled. Odd things like this happens when you don't always provide enough power. The end point is essentially be careful. Sometimes what you hear isn't specifically a problem with the earphone. Sometimes the limitation of the setup hinders the end quality.
Thanks, very interesting and informative thoughts about amping (maybe worth a dedicated thread?) that make me immediately want to start amping again. I have the E5, Supermicro IV, Icon Mobile and Voyager, and amping has been an on/off affair so far. I like the gain in SQ with most phones, but hate the inconvenience when I'm on the move. Maybe if I find a good solution, that fits in a shirt pocket and isn't too heavy, I'll go with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post
I'm glad you're getting into EQing. I feel too many people shun the concept when they shouldn't. It can be very helpful making otherwise unlikeable earphones very, very good. Most every earphone can benefit some from EQing. However, a lot of audio players just don't offer extensive EQs. It can sometimes take a rather serious EQing tool to bring an earphone into a brilliant light. There are some earphones that sound great but that I wouldn't be hard-pressed to use without EQing.
x2. Couldn't have said it better.
post #25 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by semisight View Post
Very true. I've been getting more into EQ'ing lately, especially to make my RE0s more like my Grados. I feel like people are turned away from headphones without just the right sound signature when they could otherwise have enjoyed them.
x3. Especially when I think of all the rant going on about the IE8's awful mid-bass hump, and people wanting to sell them because of that. But I believe it has a lot to do with iPods being a very popular source and sadly having the worst EQ of all. IMO Apple did a lot of things right with their DAPs, but implementing a better EQ is long overdue and should be high on their priority list.
post #26 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post
Some EQ isn't bad when needed but I don't think I could ever do that kind of EQ that james is doing. That's a bit too extreme for me even though all my dap's respond fairly well to it.
Do you mean the Playaz' EQ settings? Well, if you hear these phones from a flat source you realize it's needed. And concerning the IE8, I simply determine the amount of EQ necessary by ear. Normally I select a short section out of a track I'm very familiar with and play an A/B repeat loop. I adjust the EQ until I think it sounds right, then move on to another section. It's iterative and time consuming, but in the end I like the result. I didn't have the IE8's frequency response graph at hand when I determined their EQ setting, but subsequent comparing showed the mid-bass elevation corresponded roughly with my findings.
post #27 of 77
Dumb questions, has anyone tried the tri flanges they sell with them? How large are they? (I ordered tris from ebay but they were much to small for my ears, I always need the biggest single flanges FWIW)
post #28 of 77
Thread Starter 
^ x2 on big ears, it's biggest single flanges for me too. I'm afraid, their tri flanges are small, a bit smaller than the Shures. The orange foamies are slightly larger, plus they include large single flanges. But I prefer the UE single flanges to all of them.
post #29 of 77
I can live with the ebay bi flanges from lelong. I also like the RE0 huge biflanges (only thing I can get a seal with on the RE0). Currently trying the big PFE tips which are a weird thing (check the FX500 thread for some initial thoughts).
post #30 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post
Do you mean the Playaz' EQ settings? Well, if you hear these phones from a flat source you realize it's needed. And concerning the IE8, I simply determine the amount of EQ necessary by ear. Normally I select a short section out of a track I'm very familiar with and play an A/B repeat loop. I adjust the EQ until I think it sounds right, then move on to another section. It's iterative and time consuming, but in the end I like the result. I didn't have the IE8's frequency response graph at hand when I determined their EQ setting, but subsequent comparing showed the mid-bass elevation corresponded roughly with my findings.
yeah I meant the playaz EQ. That and the amount of work (or time) that it takes to get the right EQ is too much for me. Maybe I should just get them and find a reason to use my sansa e260 again.
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Impressions of the Playaz N1, Sonia II, RE252, RE0, PFE and IE8, or “Something of Everything and a Case for EQing”